The Wildcats played impressive games against Cincinnati, Utah and that nail-biter against Michigan State. They not only played before millions of fans on television, but the top high school recruits in the nation.
"What this does for Kentucky is gives them momentum heading into the recruiting season," said Dave Telep, Scout.com's National Recruiting Analyst, "all these kids know Kentucky and they already know their tradition, but what they haven't figured out yet is whether they can be part of it."
One thing that is potentially good for a recruit to see is Kentucky's deep rotation and prominent use of freshmen, "Kentucky has not always been known for playing a lot of freshmen," Telep added, "and this year those recruits saw Ramel Bradley, Randolph Morris, Joe Crawford and Rajon Rondo all out there, playing solid minutes and really being a factor in the outcome of the game. That is a great thing for a recruit to see. That recruit will think to himself, ‘if he can do it, I can do it."
Greg Hicks, Scout.com's West Coast Recruiting Analyst, agreed, "It's the most common thing I hear from recruits day in and day out – playing time. All the freshmen want to come in and play right away. If they look out there and see four freshmen playing for a high profile like Kentucky, they can see themselves in that same position."
One potential risk may be the impression that Kentucky's cupboard is full. They see UK playing 11, 12 or 13 players, see that only Chuck Hayes is graduating and wonder how they will fit in. Telep acknowledged that risk but said there was more upside, "Sure, that could happen, but most of these young players have a lot of confidence in their abilities and feel like, if they ‘get the chance to play' that they will beat out the other guys and earn the time. Their biggest fear is joining a team and riding the bench, unable to really get the time to show what they can do."
The Wildcats, it would appear, could use very little advantage they can get. They have one scholarship available and could really use a big man to fill the void left with the departure of Chuck Hayes. In the class of 2005, the number of quality big men available is getting thin and the clock is ticking.